By  on March 25, 2014

The pace of retail sales softened last week, producing inconsistent results by channel and the first sequential decline in four weeks.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs’ weekly chain store sales index, retail sales for the week ended Saturday declined 1.5 percent from the prior week while rising 1.7 percent against the comparable week of 2013.

“Sales on a year-over-year basis were a tad stronger, though segment demand was mixed across retail categories,” said Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC.

He added that dollar and electronics stores experienced “strong improvement” last week, while apparel stores and discounters showed improvement when measured on a year-over-year basis. “However, business was softer than the same week of the prior year for grocery, drug, department and furniture stores and wholesale clubs,” he added.

Demand in the Northeast was softer than in other regions, he noted.

The weekly report cited a pickup in promotional activity through the SaleTally-ICSC Promotions Index, with discounts running about 2 percentage points higher than in the prior week at department and specialty stores.

ICSC also noted that the availability of money for discretionary spending was hurt by the continuing rise in gasoline prices, which are up about 26 cents a gallon in the past seven weeks.

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